Along with so many animals that are already extinct in our world, there are no true wild horses left in Europe. The date of their extinction is not clear as wild and domesticated animals lived alongside each other for centuries. What is clear, is that the horse had a large impact on man’s development, including helping to maintain our landscape.
Groups of people are now making efforts to bring these animals back, by introducing herds in specific areas. The difficulty is finding an animal related to the original wild horse. The Polish konik has been the recent choice for many – believed to be related to the Eastern European wild horse, the Tarpan.
Theses sturdy horses are the size of a large pony, blue roan with dark points and mane and a clear dorsal stripe. DNA tests have revealed now that they are not in fact closely related to the tarpan, but there is no denying that they are outwardly similar to the wild horses of past centuries.
A breeding herd of koniks was introduced to the Cambridgeshire fenland in 2003, to help maintain these beautiful open spaces. The tarpan would have roamed here around 4,000 years ago so it’s good to see some relatives back here at last. The first foals were born in 2005 so it looks like they’re here to stay.
I went to visit them yesterday and found them hard at work, doing exactly what they were brought here to do – eating.
Wicken Fen, Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP
Adult entry £6.45, free to Naional Trust members